Thursday, December 31, 2009

Social Connection

The difference between my situation and the situation experienced by my parents as an indicator of the change that has taken place in our society. In one generation, we have gone from a society that could effortlessly care for people like Alex and Jack (community care, not family care) to a society where people like Alex and Jack tend to be shut out of our communities.

We have gone from a situation where caring for Alex and Jack was normal to one where the possibility is not even on the radar. The change has been immense, yet it has hardly been noticed.

The technical name for this is social connectedness. Social scientists attempt to measure it. It is a more useful indicator of what is going on in our society than benefit numbers, because it gets to the cause of the problem and points to a solution. The problem in most western nations over the last generation is that there has been a huge collapse in social connectedness.

The state has facilitated this loss of social connectedness, but it is not the cause. The primary cause is people’s choices about the way that they will live. This is important to understand, because it means the process can be reversed by people making different choices.

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